Last winter I went home to the States for five weeks. One of those weeks was spent criss-crossing the great state of Pennsylvania – a series of adventures now collectively referred to as the Pennsylvania Pitstop.
Sunday, January 8th, 2017: Steelers Football and the Milkshake of Shame
Having spent the previous night eating dinner in a heavenly church building and jamming to the soundtrack of Hell, it was only fitting that we should end up having lunch at a place called Burgatory the next day.
I’m sure you don’t need this explained to you, but Burgatory serves burgers. Damn good burgers. All kinds of damn good burgers.
We weren’t there just to eat burgers, though. Our main mission was to watch a Pittsburgh Steelers game up close and personal. Burgatory, you see, is only a couple of blocks away from Heinz Field – home of the Steelers. We couldn’t get tickets, so we went to Burgatory and watched the game on television instead. It was pretty cool that we could simultaneously hear the crowd noise on TV and in the air outside the restaurant. It was like a 4-D movie without all the annoying blasts of wind to the face.
Equally cool was the overall atmosphere of the game. When I lived in New Orleans I lived among Saints fans, which means I’m accustomed to NFL Game Day being a very loud, drunken, debaucherous sort of event filled with cops, arrests, and the occasional murder. The Steelers game was more like a blue-collar version of Ole Miss football. People (including us) were drinking of course, but no one was belligerent about it. Mostly it was parents lined up with their kids on the subway and outside the stadium. But instead of ties and dresses (customary Ole Miss wear) they were all wearing Steelers jerseys and t-shirts. It was a beautiful thing to see.
The only setback of the day came when I ordered a milkshake after lunch. From the look of Burgatory’s menu they were apparently famous for the damn things, so I thought I’d try one out. After several minutes of careful deliberation and menu research (including an in-depth Q&A with our waitress), I finally settled for the Fluffer Nutter, made with marshmallow fluff and Nutter Butter cookies. Hell. Yeah. I didn’t even care that its name was clearly porn-inspired. Now, maybe was this naive on my part, but I assumed they’d bring it to me in one of those silver milkshake mixing cups so I could inconspicuously sip it while watching the game. No. They brought it out in a huge beer glass piled obnoxiously high with whipped cream and cookie crumbs.
If I’d had a girl with me, it would have been disgustingly cute. But all I had was Keith, who made no secret that he didn’t want to be seen with me as long as I was drinking that shit. He went outside (“to make a call” – yeah right), and suddenly I found myself all alone, sad, fat, and desperate, as if I’d wandered up from my mom’s basement just long enough to get a milkshake before heading back down to watch more hentai. The only way it could possibly have been more embarrassing is if they’d made me wear some kind of horned cow hat and sung a novelty birthday song. I noticed a couple of guys across the bar motioning to me and laughing. I just shrugged and nodded. Yup, go ahead and laugh, assholes. I’d probably do the same thing if it was the other way around. What else could I do but hide behind a menu and question all my life decisions?
This moment of self-doubt didn’t last long, though. Despite its considerable cost in social currency, the Fluffer Nutter was an undeniable masterpiece of the dairy arts. Given even half a chance, I’d go back to Burgatory, sit at a quiet side table, hide behind a menu, and do it all over again.
Oh, and the Steelers won, so that was good too.